Reviews in this issue:
Guillaume Cazanave - Dizziness (Liah's Saga N2/4)
Tracklist: Kn-reflection-ow (pre-level), Feel The Dizziness,
Secretive Insanity, Pervert Shine, Broken Mandala, Ram's Shackles, 4
Basis Of..., Imbued With Alise (post-level)
Sometimes a CD comes along for reviewing purposes from an unknown (at least
to me!) artist whose work you tend to fear for the worst at first glance.
However, this work of art was definitely not the case. What we have here is an
instrumental album featuring a number of concepts which whether when looked at individually
or in a global context exceeded all my expectations. On the other hand I was
slightly disappointed with the slightly disjointed liner notes and for some
reason the CD lists there being twelve tracks while the album only indicates
eight tracks hence the reason why I could not include any times for the
Musically this is definitely not one for those people that like to hear an
album and decide immediately whether they they like it or not. Actually it is
exactly the opposite featuring music which seems to breed a dark side requiring
a lot of attentiveness and repetitive listening. Yet for those who are willing
to be patient, it is worth it as with each listen one notices new musical
avenues and hints thus creating an unbelievable effect.
The concept for this album is based on an idea conceived by Liah Brokensand
and this second part of the saga is all about a female artist by the name of
Alise Straedart and Cazenave's attempt to translate what is painted to notes,
something which he does magnificently. In fact one can look at the entire album
as being a canvas with various musical themes resembling different colors on the
canvas which can stand alone yet when merged into one create a beautiful picture
or as in this case a beautiful piece of music.
Alise Straedart is now well into her seventies and residing in Laos. She does
not communicate by means of speech but via her art, and practices Buddhism
Theravada. The paintings she does (some of which can viewed on Cazenave's
website) utilize a lot of intensity and visual richness yet are surrounded by a
black frame. This is what Cazenave has tried to embody in his music as he applied
music to pictures taken from each of Alise's six period's or levels of work.
It is impossible to delve into each individual track as the influences and
styles vary continuously and are all merged into one. At times there seems to be
a light at the end of the dark tunnel with the music seemingly becoming more
uplifting though this is ultimately quashed. In other sections one can almost sense
the influence of the Middle East via various instruments and modalities, however
the music seems to have a dark side to it, one of a certain mystery which seems
to unravel slowly with every listen. From an instrumental point of view, one
feels as if there has been the hand of a number of musicians and not one person
only. This something on par with Mike Oldfield, especially with the piano
interjections between sonoric bombardments, yet at the same time much more
powerful and sinister, Tangerine Dream, as regards the ambience yet not
as electronic, Vangelis, when compared to the almost soundtrack aspect to
the album yet not as bombastic. It's plainly and simply Guillarme Cazenave.
If you feel that you are unable to listen to a classical concert or symphony,
or are unable to experiment with new sounds, then unfortunately this album is
not for you. If on the other hand, you are a true progressive rock fan and are
open to a variety of styles and influences, this is one you should try.
Conclusion: 8.5 out of 10.
Greg Howard Band - Lift
Tracklist: Dissent (7:26), Cross Country (7:04), The Offering (4:43),
Still Water (9:01), Chrysalis (2:16), The Effect Of Marco's First Lekker Bekkie
In The Morning (6:43), Albatross (3:11), Restless (3:07), Nord (3:12), Blues For
Ayman (7:11), Experimental Sunrise (8:47)
|Country of Origin:||USA|
|Year of Release:||2000|
The Greg Howard Band is a quartet of proficient musicians (three of whom are
Dutch) with Lift being the debut album for this band. The leader of the group is
Greg Howard, one of the foremost spokesmen and instructor of the Chapman Stick
in the musical world. No newcomer to the recording world, he has twelve
recordings under his belt as well as numerous collaborations with various
artists, most notably as a guest musician with the Dave Matthews Band,
playing on 'Remember Two Things' and 'Before These Crowded Streets'.
Making up the
quartet apart from Greg Howard are three Dutch musicians, Jan Van Olffen
(electric bass), Jan Wolfkamp (drums, loops, timbales and percussion) and Hubert
Heeringa (soprano and alto saxophones, violin and wind-controlled synthesizer).
Also featured on this album is a guest appearance by Louis Gerrits on EWI and
tenor and soprano saxophones. Having a Dutch backing band can only mean that
there is going to be a strong delve into the jazz-rock territory, something the
Dutch seem to be masters at, with groups such as Focus, Ekseption
and Trace to look up to.
The opening track, Dissent, really sets
the standards for this album as it has a fusion of all the influences that are
to surface at one point or another throughout the album. All the musicians are
given the time and space to show off their musical prowess, yet this is never at
the expense of the other members and is never over indulgent. Cross Country
is much more laid back featuring a Latin rhythm coupled with some great relaxing
saxophone from Louis Gerrits, aptly responded to by Howard's Chapman Stick.
Bring out the candles for this one!
The Offering has a nice
rhythmic backdrop, creating a King Crimson-like atmosphere while Still Water
is a showcase for the width of range that the Chapman stick possesses. Here Greg
Howard utilizes both the depth in bass as well as guitar-like versatility of this
instrument whilst Heeringa's saxophone provides a laid back sonic palette. Chrysalis
once again features Heering's prominent saxophone playing to lead into The
Effect Of Marco's First Lekker Bekkie In The Morning which retains that laid
back feel of Chrysalis though the sax playing features some lovely fretless bass
Albatross retains that ambient setting while Restless,
as its name implies, tends to get things moving again. Some great drum loops
introduce this piece while accompanied by some lovely bass runs together with a
synthesized backdrop. A prelude for things to come, for though Nord is
once again a relaxed affair, Blues For Ayman has the group moving in a
more spirited fashion as Howard and Heerings engage themselves in a most
interesting duet. The album comes to a close with Experimental Sunrise, which is
as sentimental as it is engaging. This track could easily be used as a closer
for one of those sentimental films as it manages to evoke a feel that though
called on was not achieved in the rest of the album. A fantastic close for a
This album is a great buy for those searching for that relaxed
jazzy album after a hard day's work. Further more it should be of additional
value to those interested in bass playing especially the Chapman Stick.
Conclusion: 8 out of 10.
Eduard Artemiev - Warmth Of Earth
Tracklist: Birth Of Earth (3.00), Who I Am! (6.37), Warmth Of Earth (3.52),
Meeting On The Milky Way (3.46), Farewell (3.13), Expectation (4.20), Rekkens (5.22),
Hope (3.40), Where Are You? (5.45), Lonely Sail (3.43), Finale (Hymn To Human Being) (9.11)
|Country of Origin:||Russia|
|Catalogue #:||FGBG 4309.AR|
|Year of Release:||1999|
Russian composer Eduard Artemiev has opted to try writing music for a rock group and the result is the CD Warmth Of Earth.
It contains four instrumental tracks and seven songs with lyrics in Russian (written by Yuri Rytkheu). The songs are performed by
the female vocalist Jeanne Rozhdestvenskaya who is accompanied by the "Boomerang" Ensemble consisting of Yu. Bogdanov (synthy
1000, electric guitar, acoustic guitar), A. Zakirov (bass guitar), S. Bogdanov (drums), and I. Len and S. Saliev (keyboards).
The result of this project is interesting. Artemiev has managed to write something both poppy and slightly bombastic, leaning
towards progressive rock of the 70s and early 80s, but with a sound that is very synthetic. In fact, every once in a while
the sound reminds me of soundtracks for computer games or 70s and 80s television series.
The instrumental tracks are very atmospheric and one, Farewell, even reminds me of the Japanese New Age
instrumentalist Kitaro. The track breathes a meditative mood, whereas some other instrumental tracks contain
more energy. This said, it should be noted that the CD by no means could be considered heavy. Even when it leans towards
the bombastic (which is mostly on the vocal tracks), it is always within a light and upbeat spirit.
As already stated, the lyrics are in Russian, and therefore totally lost on me, but the vocal melodies are very nice and
Rozhdestvenskaya's voice is good. My three favourite tracks would have to be Meeting On The Milky Way, with its
slightly harder and deeper vocals, Rekkens, which with its distorted, cartoon-like vocals reminds me of the
playfulness of Valensia, and Where Are You? which is probably the track with most edge in it, leaning towards
English bands like Arena and IQ.
The final track, Finale (Hymn To Human Being), clocking in at nine minutes plus, brings the total grade down a bit.
It is simply too long and too unstructured. The last two to three minutes turn instrumental (in a slightly repetitive way)
and end in a fadeout that makes the song lack any climax whatsoever.
On the whole, it is fun and nice to listen to the CD, though it works best as relaxation in the background. The Russian
lyrics are, of course, a problem for those who either want to understand what the lyrics are about or not very fond of
the Russian language. Personally, I find them pretty charming on this CD (though it is just impossible to sing along
to even a few bits that I would really like to do that to).
So, if you are in for something new, or want to try something Russian, Warmth Of Earth is not a bad CD at all. It
will definitely find its way into my CD player every once in a while, but there are many other bands that I would recommend
trying out before this one.
Conclusion: 6.5 out of 10.
Into Eternity - Into Eternity
Tracklist: Torn (5.33), Sorrow (3.50), Left Behind (3.16), The Modern Day (4.54), A Frozen Escape (3.51),
Behind The Disguise (4.16), Holding Onto Emptiness (4.53), Into Eternity (4.07), Speak Of The Dead (3.58),
Silence Through Virtue (4.50)
The new label DVS Records made a strong start last year with the realease of Sonic Debris's debut album Velvet Thorns,
and they followed up that first critically acclaimed release with Into Eternity from Canada. This band, consisting of Tim
Roth (lead vocals, guitar), Chris McDougall (keyboards), Jim Austin (drums, vocals), Scott Krall (bass, vocals) and Daniel
Nargang (guitar), is much harder than Sonic Debris and follows the interesting new trend within the progmetal genre to go
for heavier, rawer music and combine clear vocals and death vocals (like After Forever and Wolverine).
The first track, Torn, opens with a sampling from what I believe to be some kind of horror or fantasy movie with a
Carmina Burana-like choir part in it. The song then breaks out into a hard and heavy metal track with rather a lot of
death vocals in it. The rhythms are nice, but slightly too repetitive for my taste.
Sorrow follows in the heavy footsteps of its predecessor but with some very up front keyboard lines in it and a very
nice section of death vocals doubled by clean vocals. The clear vocals are given slightly more room on this track and I
must say that I really like Roth's vocals. They are especially interesting in that they are not really typical metal vocals.
So far into the CD, my impression has only been that it is getting better and better.
When Left Behind starts with its soft acoustic guitars and gentle vocal harmonies, I am almost surprised after the
previous onslaught. Well, the metal starts up again pretty soon, but this song is slower and more melodic, in my opinion.
One thing that points to this is also the fact that the death metal growling is nowhere to be found in it. At any rate,
this song has become one of my favourites on the CD.
Into Eternity is obviously a band into film. The fourth track, The Modern Day, opens with a sampling from Quentin
Tarantino's Pulp Fiction - a short piece of dialogue between Bruce Willis and Ving Rhames: "OK Man?" "No, I'm
pretty fucking far from OK." The track then bursts out into a hard and heavy track. The vocal melody lines are very similar
to the previous track, only this time adding the death vocals to the fray. All in all, there is a bit too much of speed
extravaganza in this song for my liking, but the keyboards create atmospheres that definitely hold the music together nicely.
Also, the addition of an Iron Maiden-like guitar solo makes the song slightly better in my opinion.
After the outburst of track four, A Frozen Escape offers a superb relief. Starting with rain and thunder, this track is
based on acoustic guitars and gentle vocals singing in harmony. This is probably THE best track on the CD. Melodic and moving.
There are also some more spoken voices that might be samplings from some kind of sci-fi movie or tv-series, but which
definitely remind me of the speaking voices in some Dream Theater tracks (e.g. my all time DT favourite Space-Dye
Vest). Once again: BRILLIANT TRACK!
The band once more unleash their heavier side in Behind The Disguise. They go for more speed and heavy drumming
(though slower now) and a short but superb bass solo at the beginning. They use both death and clean vocals again in this
song. Still a bit too much fast pounding on the drums for my taste, but there are some really nice keyboard lines, a clear
and very good guitar solo and the slower (still heavy) bits are really great. The song ends with another Tarantino quote
(either from Jackie Brown or Pulp Fiction) in a sampling of Samuel L. Jackson.
Track seven, Holding Onto Emptiness, offers a soft keyboard opening and slow drums, but if we had expected another
gentle track, we are not entirely right. True, it is not relying on speed as a main factor, but rather on some wonderful
basslines and guitars that are unleashed in a slow heavy groove. The drums speed up in the chorus, but clearer guitars
are coming through and sweep the listener away. There are no death vocals in this track, but it might very well be the
heaviest track on the CD. I really love the bass in this song and the track is a definite favourite!
The title track (of both CD and band) starts with nice acoustic guitars that are joined by floating electric guitars.
The gentler vocals return, but after a little while the song breaks out into a heavy solo and moves on to become a more
massive wall of sound. At the end, we are given a lovely acoustic guitar solo. A fantastic song that really shows the
potential of Into Eternity.
In Speak Of The Dead, the Pulp Fiction-reference returns with an opening sampling. We are then served heavy
guitars on a solid atmospheric keyboard soundscape. Death and clean vocals are both used, the death vocals being accompanied
by vicious guitars. There is also a very nice clean guitar solo... and a keyboard solo!
On the final track, Silence Through Virtue, keyboards and drums open, followed by slow heavy guitars and basses. It
sounds very promising, but the keyboards fall into the background and a lot of the time the drums go for fast hammering
again. The mix between death vocals and clear vocals is good and it is the death vocals that are allowed to see us
to the end of the album screaming with just a gentle keyboard note fading away. Some really good guitar riffs definitely
make the song worthwhile.
A very good CD, even if I could have done with a little less speed at times. Also, while I enjoy Roth's vocals a lot, the
melody lines (though good) sound a bit too similar a lot of the time. The album cover is made by Mattias Norén
(Progart) and shows his unerring sense for cover art for progressive rock (though it
is not by far one of his best - just check out the Sonic Debris cover). All in all, I like the album a lot and can recommend it
to anyone who is not afraid of the heavy (and death) metal side of prog. Personally, I am looking forward to the next Into
Eternity album which is already in the making.
Conclusion: 8- out of 10.
Supper's Ready - Listen To The Pictures
Tracklist: Images Of Childhood (7:58), Ordinary Man (5;19),
Esperanta Latina (8:55), Farewell (4:40), Open Mind (3:30), Paradise Lost (2:03),
Days Of War (2:37), Harlequin (5:30), Indochine (10:32)
|Country of Origin:||Luxemburg|
|Record Label:||Musea Records|
|Catalogue #:||LC 09709|
|Year of Release:||2001|
Please do not confuse this Luxemburg based band with for instance the more
well-known Genesis tribute band from Italy, or an equally named band from
England. No, this band makes original prog rock in the style of Egdon Heath's
Him, The Snake and I or Geoff Mann's (of which the vocalist has a lot in
common) Twelfth Night (Love Song).
Also a band like Aragon (e.g. Rocking Horse) comes to mind here and there, although
mostly the music is not that sharp. The music on this album therefore can best
be described as melodic rock, like the SI label specialized in during the old
The album itself is quite calm, and never really comes to a bursting climax. That
is the most important type of critisism, since for the rest I have no severe
complaints. The first track, Images of Childhood, illustrates this point fine.
It starts out with moody acoustic guitar and keyboards, in the Egdon Heath
style. The vocals are also a kind of hybrid between EH and Twelfth Night. Quite
good therefore... No, make that *very* good. It is not often that a vocalist can
carry away my approval on all fronts, but Pol Feltes can. I think he holds a promise
as a prog vocalist, and may in the future do some great things. The song features
some fine guitar work, but the general rhythm section is not very inspiring.
Ordinary Man is also very atmospheric, edging towards Camel (since it features
a flute ;-) and could have been a lost Egdon Heath track, both in instrumentation
but especially the vocals it reminded me of The Killing Silence.
Esperanza Latina opens a bit more uptempo, with an electric guitar playing the
main melody, but still the general impression is that of calmness. With the
different guitar sounds throughout the song, this comes quite close to some
instrumental Camel works. Slowly the track becomes sharper, a bit more edgy.
In my opinion, they could have pulled this through even further, making it maybe
a bit more unfriendly on first hearing, but spicier in the long run.
Now a couple
of shorter, more song-oriented tracks follow (hence the Him, The Snake and I
reference). Fine tracks to listen to, but nothing really special to write
about in a review. If you know how Him, The Snake and I sounds, you have a pretty
good idea what to expect from these tracks. Open Mind (an instrumental) has a
mighty fine melody, truly emotional, that strongly reminded me of something I
heard before, but I can't recall what exactly.
The final track Indochine,
is a long instrumental that opens in Indonesian style, with a lot of rain and
thunder sounds, very effectively creating the mood of a rainy sunset in Java
or something. The subsequent part is a bit, I don't know, artificial. I don't
know if you ever listened to Jan Akkerman's Noise of Art album,
David Gilmore's About Face or a couple of more recent Pendragon
tracks, but this comes
close to a lot of tracks that can be found on those albums. The guitar is prominent
and the rest of the instruments are purely supportive of the electric guitar's
intricate moves (from rock to even mildy jazzy when the guitar and a saxophone
play in perfect harmony). Then again, if you like a good piece of guitar work, this
is a fine track for you. It ends with eastern chanting and some melancholic acoustic
Summarizing, this is a good, melodic, song-oriented album. However, it is too
calm, it could have used a bit more outspoken anger, a bit more of a bite.
That would have increased it to a recommended level. Now, it is just on the
verge of it. It is without a doubt an album I will play again now and then,
due to the extremely emotional melodies featured distributed across the album.
Conclusion: 8- out of 10.